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Ariana Savalas: Telly's daughter on new CD, 'McSteamy'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Jazz singer Ariana Savalas recently released her single "Perfect Man," with a video featuring Eric Dane—"McSteamy" from ABC's Grey's Anatomy. The daughter of Kojak actor Telly Savalas, Ariana was born in L.A. before being raised in Minnesota.

This multitalented artist not only designed her album's cover art and now expands into the acting world on CBS' Criminal Minds.

She dropped into Sidetrack to have a drink and discuss her music Nunn on One.

Windy City Times: Hello, Ariana—great to meet you face to face. Are you doing anything fun while you are in town?

Ariana Savalas: I'm flying in for a show then right back out of town so maybe just the top of the Sears Tower. I would like to check out the Green Mill for some jazz, too.

WCT: You are a Midwest gal I heard that grew up in Minnesota.

Ariana Savalas: I was born in L.A.; then when I was 8 years old we moved to Minnesota, so I do feel like I grew up in the Midwest. Being in Chicago is like being home. My hometown band is here.

WCT: Where do you live now?

Ariana Savalas: L.A. I hate it there, especially when I come here and see Chicago. The people here are so much nicer, and it is clean and beautiful. I am not dogging L.A. but there is just something about being in the Midwest.

WCT: You can't escape it. So you are primarily a jazz artist?

Ariana Savalas: I describe myself as a musician. Yes, I am a jazz artist but I also make a lot of music that isn't jazz. I grew up with two very different parents who exposed me to do two very different kinds of music. One of which is my dad's generation like Frank Sinatra. It is a complete obsession of mine. I will never stop pursuing that. That is my profession and my career.

My mom is younger than my dad was, so she exposed me to George Michael, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox. So, as a songwriter, I am all over the place. I write jazz and more sort of alternative rock music. That is what is on my Kingdom album. That was the first album I ever did and a lot more out there than the jazz shows that I do.

I don't think there is one artist out there that pigeonholes themselves into one thing. I am known for jazz though.

WCT: When did you discover that you could sing?

Ariana Savalas: I think I could sing before I could talk. I think it's because I watched so many Disney movies.

WCT: What is your favorite?

Ariana Savalas: Sleeping Beauty. I was melodramatic as a kid. I could quote things from movies.

WCT: Did you like musicals?

Ariana Savalas: I loved them and that is where I got my start and why I went to a convent for high school but only because they have the most ridiculous theater there. I have a song called "The Nun." I am going to dedicate it you next time I am here!

WCT: That's a deal. Have you noticed a lot of gay fans when you play live?

Ariana Savalas: Yes; they are my favorite audience. Whether it is side projects like Kingdom or my jazz music, it is divided 50/50 between senior citizens and gay people. It is brilliant. They are the best audience.

I grew up around gay people my whole life. My sister is a lesbian. It has always been a part of my life and my upbringing, especially being in theatre. I think it has a lot to do with how I write songs also. I have been with such a nondiscriminatory community that I tend to write for everybody.

WCT: What does your sister do?

Ariana Savalas: She is a bookseller. She has been openly gay in our family, which is great, because sometimes a Greek family doesn't accept that. Because of Candace it really opened up everyone's eyes.

WCT: Do you have a favorite memory of your dad?

Ariana Savalas: He used to get the most ridiculous smile on his face when he would see his kids. He would always freak out. He was big macho guy. You wouldn't expect him to get all emotional. It was so nice to know that you were that obsessed over.

WCT: I heard you are an artist. Do you paint?

Ariana Savalas: My mother taught me to paint. I did all of the artwork for my album except for the digital graphics. It is a passion of mine. It helps me to relax.

This is probably the reason I don't get laid—because I have a huge portrait of my dad and Jesus that my mom painted by my bed!

WCT: You were on Criminal Minds?

Ariana Savalas: I love the show so much that I stalked the casting director until he gave me an audition. I found out there was a casting workshop for it; after two sessions, I was called in to audition.

WCT: How did Eric Dane star in your video?

Ariana Savalas: It was an accident. I will be releasing an album in July so that will be my first album. When I did my Kingdom project we wanted to make a video and it got way out of hand.

My brother was having lunch with Eric and played him my music. He wanted to get involved and we made a video for "Single Man." He is the nicest guy, and wanted to do it out of the kindness of his heart.

WCT: Do you have a favorite jazz artist?

Ariana Savalas: Herb Alpert. My mom turned me on to him, and I am madly in love with him. He crossed so many boundaries and genres.

Look for the new album in July. For more information visit .

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